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Morning photo: Sunday set

Oh, Colorado!

wetlands sunrise Colorado

Wetlands sunrise, Frisco, Colorado.

FRISCO — Our Sunday set is a grab-bag of shots from the last 10 days or so, starting with another spectacular sunrise scene at the Meadow Creek wetlands in Frisco. And since we’ve been on the road reporting for the crowfunded Climate Rangers environmental journalism project, we’re also featuring a few images from outside Summit County. Continue reading

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Morning photo: RMNP!

A little taste of high country heaven

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Trail Ridge Road view.

FRISCO — Dylan and I had a chance to visit Rocky Mountain National Park as part of the crowdfunded Climate Ranger project, meeting with a team of scientists who are monitoring conditions in the park’s alpine tundra as part of the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. The monitoring is part of a global program aimed at trying to track climate-induced changes with long-term data, because we won’t know what climate change is doing unless we study it closely. We’ll do more reporting on this topic in the next few days, but for now, a few pics from the Park. Click on the panos to see the full-size versions. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Study sheds new light on wolf predation

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Hunting wolves may have less of an impact on elk herds than previously believed. Photo via USFWS.

Three-year tracking project helps show that wolves alone aren’t necessarily responsible for declining elk populations

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — For quite some time, conventional wisdom has held that the presence of wolves in the Greater Yellowstone area has had beneficial impacts on the overall ecosystem by keeping elk on the move.

But a new study, led by recent University of Wyoming Ph.D. graduate Arthur Middleton, casts some doubt on that theory. For three years, the researchers closely followed the  Clarks Fork elk herd west of Cody, along with the wolf packs that prey on it. Continue reading

Colorado: Poaching investigation ends with convictions

Michigan men hit with fines, banned from Colorado for 5 years

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A Colorado elk herd. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Three Michigan men who poached elk, bear and bobcats in Colorado have been convicted and sentenced for their crimes after a long-running investigation by wildlife officials in both states.

In all, the investigation implicated eight men, including several from Colorado, who were engaged in systematic violations of game laws during illegal hunts that took place in the King Mountain area of southern Routt County in Colorado. Continue reading

Elk, bighorn sheep studied in southern Colorado

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Colorado biologists to study bighorn sheep herds in the San Juans. PHOTO COURTESY CDOW.

Biologists learning more about big game movement in the San Juans

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Colorado Parks and Wildlife Biologists are studying how elk and bighorn sheep in southern Colorado move in an effort to better manage some of the state’s charismatic wildlife.

“These studies will help us to learn important information about the elk and bighorn populations in this area of Colorado,” said Stephanie Steinhoff, terrestrial biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the San Luis Valley.

The studies are being conducted in the south San Juan Mountains on the west side of the San Luis Valley and east of Pagosa Springs.

In the elk study, 25 animals — eight bulls and 17 cows — were captured and fitted with VHF radio collars which allow biologists to track the animals’ movements from the air. The animals were captured in mid-February. At least part of the elk herd migrates into New Mexico, but wildlife biologists are not sure how far they go. Continue reading

Colorado biologists to hold elk symposium in Steamboat

Information session will address winter impacts to big game herds

A herd of elk near Buena Vista, Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY DAVE HANNIGAN/COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After watching elk grow weak and die during last year’s record-breaking snowfall, some residents of the Steamboat Springs region decided to take matters into their own hands.

They started feeding the elk, which may have saved a few individual animals, but can cause problems for the larger population, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists. The best way to ensure healthy big game populations is with large-scale habitat improvement projects, the biologists said. Read an in-depth story on this issue in Steamboat Today.

“Last winter, due to the deep snow and difficult conditions, we had elk move into town and many people saw firsthand the impact an especially harsh winter can have on wildlife,” said Danielle Domson, wildlife manager for the Steamboat Springs South District. “The situation caused some concern, but we want to explain to everyone that what they saw was actually a natural part of an elk’s life cycle. Colorado Parks and Wildlife information big game management is online here Continue reading

Elk poaching investigated near Copper Mountain

Information sought in suspected elk poaching near Copper Mountain, at Stafford Creek.

State wildlife officers want info on elk that was killed and left to rot

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Wildlife officers are seeking information that can help identify the person or persons who illegally killed a bull elk and abandoned its carcass near Stafford Creek, approximately one mile from I-70 in the vicinity of Copper Mountain.

The elk was probably killed in early September and the suspected poachers removed only the head, antlers and a few portions of the hide, abandoning the meat.

“Shooting big-game and leaving the meat to rot is a senseless waste of Colorado’s wildlife resources,” said Breckenridge District Wildlife Manager Sean Shepherd. “This is essentially stealing from the people of Colorado, and whoever did this could face felony charges. We would appreciate any help in finding who did this.”

Wildlife investigators are asking any member of the public who might have information concerning this incident to contact CPW’s Operation Game Thief. The poaching hotline is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest in this case, and callers can remain anonymous by calling toll free, 1-877-265-6648. More info is online at Operation Game Thief.

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